If the Chicago Cubs can put together a great team, so can you. Granted, you don’t have $97 million in payroll to throw around, but you’re also not looking for people who can hit 2-2 curveball so your options are a lot broader. Sometimes, they’re too broad.
In a marketplace where new entrants (aka millennials) are looking more and more to small business, finding the right people can be tricky. And while the old tried and true methods of posting on Monster or LinkedIn aren’t completely outdated, they’re also likely not going to land you with the best talent.
So how do you find and hire the best employees when they may not be actively looking for jobs? Here are some tips.
Nearly a quarter of all new hires come from employee referrals, and a referral bonus is a classic method for finding good people but it’s never a sure thing. Employees will sometimes recommend their friends with such ringing endorsements as, “she’s a SUPER cool lady”, even though she has exactly zero days’ experience in your field. Employees may know best who fits with corporate culture, but for the perfect fit you might need to dig a little deeper.
Try expanding that referral bonus out to EVERYONE: Your social media followers, your barber, the guys at the corner bar. Whoever. One of them might know somebody perfect, and that extra little cash incentive might motivate them to introduce you.
Copy the Competition
One of the glorious things about being a small business owner is that you can study and copy what large companies do successfully. So scour job posts from large, successful competitors and look at the skills they’re seeking, experience required, how their ads are worded, and the job titles they’ve created. You might also look to see what they’re offering in terms of benefits and salary if that’s available. Your company might not be able to match that, but you can still formulate a package with flexible hours or more vacation.
Hire Contract Employees
Bringing people in on short term assignments allows you try them out and see who fits best. This is especially useful if you need to make hires in a hurry, and don’t want to run the risk of a bad hire. It also allows you to see how their skill sets match up with job demands, how they react to real-life situations, and how they fit the corporate culture. And the candidates get to try you out too, with very little risk.
(Virtually) Be Where the Talent Is
Job boards are kind of like the Internet’s version of flier-covered telephone poles. The big ones are just full of stuff that’s hard to read, and some of the postings stay up far past their usefulness. Large boards not only cause your job ad to be lost in the shuffle, they’re also overwhelming and discouraging to job seekers. Savvy job seekers now will use industry-specific job boards, most of which narrow down to specific geographic regions. But finding the right people goes beyond just posting on the right board. With this generation, you need engagement.
What does that mean? It means go to message boards, online communities, and blogs frequented by people in your industry. Even Reddit threads can yield some surprisingly useful relationships. Hopefully you know these communities already, but if not get familiar with them and start poking around to see who you can find.
According to Monster’s blog over half of companies are using Twitter to help with hiring. HALF! This goes back to that whole engagement thing, wherein you interact with potential hires before even seeing a resume. It’s a good, faceless way to get to know a candidate, an ideal place to post jobs, and the best way to create a story around your company.
That story is really the most important thing you’ll do on social media. Whatever platforms you choose, make your social media about more than just your products, services and specials. Craft it to reflect your company’s personality, and it may draw in the talent you’re looking for.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask your employees to promote job openings on their personal social media accounts. They may have acquaintances who’d be a great fit. Employees can also share a lot on social media about what working at your company is like, and maybe even generate a little FOMO (fear of missing out) for all those poor souls not working there.
“The best candidates are usually the ones who aren’t necessarily looking for a new job, but who are open to new opportunities and challenges,” says Doug Viney, President & CEO of Benjamin Douglas Consulting, a recruitment firm in Coral Gables, Florida. So how do you find those people without directly poaching your competitors? The header of this section may have given it away, but yes, the answer is recruiting firms.
Recruiting firms are companies you hire either on retainer or on contingency (like a lawyer) who have access to talent you probably don’t. Or would take a great deal of time and effort for you to find. Their entire job is to find people to fill positions for you, and depending on how large your current staff is can save you considerable time and money. The firm finds candidates, presents you with their resumes, and you decide whether to bring them in for an interview. Fees for retainer firms can vary widely, but contingency firms typically charge about 30% of the first year’s salary for anyone you hire.
“When hiring a recruitment firm, it’s important to make sure the recruiter understands your company culture,” says Viney. “Finding the best talent is the first challenge, but making sure someone will fit in with your culture is another challenge in itself.”
Asking the Right Questions
Once you’ve got applicants selected, the next step is figuring out what questions to ask, in order to ensure you get the right people. Since your business is small, you’ve probably worked in nearly every position in your company, so you know better than anyone what each job entails. Use this to your advantage, and put each applicant in a tough situation you’ve encountered before. Ask them what they’d do in the same spot, and see how it lines up with what you did, and what actually worked.
Beyond that, Viney suggests asking them why they left certain jobs for another, what their working relationship was like with their superiors and coworkers, and what their ideal corporate culture might be. Additionally, always ask about gaps in employment, and what motivates them to work every day. It’s also important to ask what KIND of role the person is looking for, to ensure you don’t put a marketing person in an accounting role, despite what might be on his or her resume.
Hiring is neither easy nor simple, and it’s far from an exact science. But by looking in the right places, bringing in the right people, and asking the right questions, you can greatly increase your chances of putting together the perfect team. Without the $97 million payroll.